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The Gay Naked Play, Above the Stag – Review

Pros: This bitingly funny script is extremely well-acted and deserves to be seen by a wider audience.

Cons: Although I personally see few cons, this show is, by its very nature, quite camp and therefore may not be to everyone’s tastes.

Pros: This bitingly funny script is extremely well-acted and deserves to be seen by a wider audience. Cons: Although I personally see few cons, this show is, by its very nature, quite camp and therefore may not be to everyone’s tastes. First off, don’t be frightened: this isn’t a play where everyone is naked all the time or where willy jokes are shoved in your face. However, if that is what you were looking for, there is some bare flesh now and again (and a bit more than just some at the end) and there is enough camp humour…

Summary

Rating

Excellent

An hilarious romp through the ups and downs of a theatre company with a little bit of nudity to keep you happy. What more could you want?

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First off, don’t be frightened: this isn’t a play where everyone is naked all the time or where willy jokes are shoved in your face. However, if that is what you were looking for, there is some bare flesh now and again (and a bit more than just some at the end) and there is enough camp humour to keep everyone entertained.

In New York, deep down in off-off-Broadway, the small and not terribly successful theatre group The Integrity Players is aiming to bring back to life rare 17th and 18th century plays. They strive to remove themselves from mass consumerism and will not bow down to what investors want, or compromise their values by stripping off on stage to get an audience in. Their aim to ‘illuminate the human condition through faithful productions of the lesser- known classics’ has, unfortunately, led to tiny audiences. With an amazing theatre but no money to continue the company, it could all come to an end soon.

Meanwhile, in a bar on the other side of New York, the most successful gay theatre group in the city has got oodles of money and no theatre to put their productions on. When a member of The Integrity Players meets them the result seems obvious. With a gay porn star in tow as male lead, and a gay entourage of costume designers and choreographers as well as an erotic adaption of Passion of the Christ, will he be able to convince the rest of the company to ‘sell out’ to keep performing?

This is an extremely funny production. It doesn’t try to go too deep into the issue of balancing income and integrity, but touches on it enough to get the message across. The cast are great and the stereotypes presented, like the screeching, preening gay theatre team and the pompous, upper class ‘English’ investor, are just enough to get the idea without going over the top.

Matthew Ferdenzi, who plays porn star Kit Swagger, brings the muscle to the show and I cannot deny that it’s a nice addition when he happens not to have many clothes on. Lucas Livesey brings depth to the meek ‘New Gay’, Harold J. Lichtenberger. The star of the show however, is Christopher Woodley as director Eddie Russini. He minces, quips and bitches his way into the hearts of the Integrity Players and without Woodley’s brilliant delivery of this very well written script, the play would not have quite the same impact. He and his team really are the ‘Gay’ in The Gay Naked Play.

Clearly, you can expect some strong language and sexual references but it certainly doesn’t feel over the top. I think that, despite who its target audience seems to be, this can and surely will be enjoyed by a much wider audience.

Author: David Bell
Director: Andrew Beckett
Producer: Peter Bull
Booking Link: http://www.abovethestag.com/whatson/
Booking Until: 16th February 2014

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